It’s been a very interesting experience moving back to the other side of the world. I lived one third of my life in Portugal and I miss it on a level that even I didn’t expect.
“Saudade” and the feeling of what if, a feeling that I know very well.
It’s easy to do, to make the memory of a country or a person into a feeling as strong or even stronger than anything we have in the present. To colour it in as bright as we can and carry it with us. To hold onto it and compare everything else to it.
Saudade can be addictive even, to the point that even though we know it’s not quite the truth, we revel in the version of it that makes us feel most alive. Like love, or passion, longing, hope, happiness.
It’s also interesting that the person I miss the most when I am in Australia isn’t here, and more interesting still that a person’s absence can have just as great an impact on someone’s life, as another’s presence in it.
I believe the longer I stay in Australia the stronger my “saudade” for Portugal will become, just as my father is still remembered by his daughter with such love and admiration, despite of it all.
Truth is, I love my life anywhere, as long as 3 people are with me. That’s what family is I believe. Creating a home for yourself and then doing everything you can to nourish and protect it; savouring it… as the world spins madly on.
When you move countries you also realise that there are good and ‘less good’ people everywhere. It isn’t dependant on country or culture. Sometimes the smallest thing someone does can change your day and that happens in every aspect of life.
Kindness, and placing importance on the things that really matter. Portugal taught me that politeness and kindness are two different things entirely, and while some cultures may have more social politeness parameters, for me that just makes it harder to decider who is genuine and who is not.
In a world where people worry more about the lines on the forehead, than the fat around their heart, it’s good to remember that one tells the story, while the other the power to end it, and to balance the importance we give things on a deeper level.
It may seem old school but I also feel a great sense of over analysing. Instead of getting out and doing things that make us feel good, we analyse whether or not we are feeling good.
Truth, another complex issue these days that would seem self explanatory. A great quote from Nina Schick is “In a world where anything can be faked everyone becomes a target, but even more than that if everything can be faked then everything can also be denied. So the very basis of what is reality starts to become corroded.”
As a result studies show that our brains can now only distinguish the truth from the lies 54% of the time.
“You are just not that important” Another realisation that I carry with me, that interestingly makes me feel free.
I suffered from depression for ten years and this was the turning point for me. Someone said to me one day “You are just not that important”. It wasn’t a miracle. I didn’t wake up the next day and feel any different. But these words stayed with me, and gradually changed the way I saw the world and myself in it.
All the pressure that I had put on myself, and all the guilt and the heartache, and the feelings of failure, I realised, was all just a camouflage I had created. Humans are intelligent animals. Not just in our level of cognition but also in our ability to adapt and survive. I had created these mechanisms to survive what was a childhood difficulty, and then they had become so ingrained in my personality to the point that I didn’t know how to live without them.
This is of course because my depression was an internal one. I have no idea and don’t assume to know what it is to live in the throws of external despair, and certainly if I couldn’t feed my children then no inner journey would pull me from that.
In my case, I considered myself a failure, when in truth I had never failed at anything, and the only true failure was not realising earlier how great I really was. This came over time through many things, but a huge part was putting aside all the judgement and expectations, and realising that I am all I’ve got, and I am the me that I need.
These words remind me of something that I feel like the world has forgotten, the biology of it all. The reality that there are 400 billion suns in our galaxy alone and that we are another fabulously formed combination of atoms trying to take in our share of oxygen while it gradually kills us.
And the world turns madly on…
Motherhood was this for me. It was realising how magical we are and also what’s truly important. Breastfeeding my daughter, what a privileged experience that is. To be able to give her everything she needs to survive and grow from my body to hers. The very thing in fact that defines us as a species. Then getting to watch her grow, where the real journey begins, as we shape and love and get to be part of something incredible. I read something that I found resonated with me recently, that people shouldn’t ask “should we have a baby”, but more “do we want to create a human being.”
So while we are not that important, we are also incredibly important. The more I discover about the world, the more I realise this. The balance between knowing what we are capable of, but also understanding that we are just another part of an incredibly delicate balance.
“She imagined, now, what it would be like to accept herself completely. Every mistake she had ever made. Every mark on her body. Every dream she hadn’t reached or pain she had felt. Every lust or longing she had suppressed.
She imagined accepting it all. The way she accepted nature. The way she accepted a glacier or a puffin or the breach of a whale. She imagined seeing herself as just another brilliant freak of nature. Just another sentient animal, trying her best. And in doing so, she imagined what it was like to be free.” Matt Haig, The Midnight Library